Friday, January 18, 2013

The Simonians and Simeon

I have been very busy all week so my postings have gone down dramatically.  Nevertheless one can make the case that focusing too much on a problem can lead to stagnation.  Sometimes you just need to take a break.  To this end, my friends, I think we can make our way through the problem of Christian origins by taking note of the Acts of Peter and its relationship with a lost gnostic text that is also behind the Acts of Paul (see our last post).

It would appear that 'Simon' manifested himself in both the figures of Peter and Paul.  We know from the Pseudo-Clementine tradition that Paul was often cast as 'Simon.'  Nevertheless Peter's real name is one and the same with the heretic and - in the Acts of Peter tradition - he stands in the place of Jesus on the Cross (something one would expect to be associated with Simon Magus).

The artificial conflict which is suggested by the Catholic epistles (i.e. 'Paul' opposing 'Peter' at Antioch) is of far less value than it seems as it comes from the first two chapters of Galatians which are almost never cited in relation to the Marcionites.  Moreover as we have noted many times here Tertullian and other writers associate the 'secret gospel' with Paul and the normative text with Peter.  Yet the discovery of the Letter to Theodore demonstrates to us that there was still one underlying tradition.

There is also a notion in the letter of Clement that the initiation 'mystery' was associated with the establishment of a priesthood.  But what sort of a priesthood was this?  These weren't Levites (even though St Mark is consistently cited as being a member of this tribe).  I strongly suspect they were 'Simonians' (i.e. 'of the tribe of Simeon').  I wonder if this is the key to understand the figure of 'Simon.'  Was he a latter day Simeon?

There were two tribes which failed to receive a portion of land - the Levites and the Simeonites.  Those of Simeon disappear from the blessings in Deuteronomy.  Simeon is above all a 'secret' or 'hidden' figure in the Bible, his descendants then fitting 'attendants' of the secret god.

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